Arizona CPS Exposed – Arizona Creates the Department of Child Safety aka CPS

This week the Arizona legislator passed both bills to create the new Department of Child Safety as well as funding for the operations.

This week at the legislature

This week the Arizona legislature convened for a special session called by the governor to address the issues with CPS. The results were disappointing but not unexpected.

The focus of this session was to pass the bills to create the new CPS system, now called the Department of Child Safety or DCS. People need to understand that CPS is not abolished. It was simply moved out of the Department of Economic Security (DES) and now is a stand alone department that reports directly to the governor. The legislation proposed this week was to make that temporary change a permanent one.

Unfortunately the media coming from all sources was ready to paint any legislator who was not in support of the bill as someone who didn’t care about the safety of children. The bills passed.

They passed one bill to supply the funding for the new agency. The second bill was to create the new structure for DCS and change the wording in the current legislation to reflect the name change. If you review the 218 page bill, there were very little changes other than 13-14 pages addressing the new structure.

If you listened to those speaking on behalf of the new department you would believe that vast changes are taking place and that an independent oversight committee was established to make sure DCS was following the laws. This isn’t quite accurate.

The foundation for the new department was created. The majority of changes discussed during the committee meetings was more Director Flanagan’s vision for the new agency. The problem is as directors change and the governor’s change the policies become whatever those in charge decide they should be. This can be a problem moving forward.

Did the legislative process go as it should or as anticipated?

It is really disappointing when our state government runs similar to our federal government. The state requires all bills to be posted by 4:00pm in order to be heard in committee the next day. This allows for the people to read the bill and submit comments or prepare to speak. Unfortunately the Senate bill SB1001 was not published until around 4:30pm and we have no idea what time SB1002 for funding was actually published.

We heard that while the legislators were all called into session on Tuesday, the bills weren’t finished. They were still writing them on Tuesday!

Then in order to accomplish what they wanted in the timeframe they expected, the legislature had to suspend the rules in order to have the committees hear the bills, despite the fact that they were not published in time. These are tricks which results in limiting comments or questions about the bills.

To further the issue, the House committee that had been dealing with the CPS issues all last session was Health and Human Services. We had been working with a number of legislators on this committee, so many of them were familiar with our report as well as our concerns. On Tuesday rather than having Health and Human Services hear HB1001, it was instead given to Public Safety. We only found out about it at the last minute.

Were you able to attend any of the hearings or speak at any of them?

We were able to attend a portion of the Senate Appropriations Hearing as well as a portion of the House Public Safety Hearing.

We did attend the full Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing and we were able to speak.

We listened to Director Flanagan’s vision of CPS, now DCS. He has some good ideas and he does understand some of the issues. However, if he doesn’t listen to the parents and families affected by CPS and the removal of children he will fail to provide corrective action that will result in positive reforms. So there is still the potential of creating a more abusive agency.

However, after everyone gave their positive spin presentations and others made supportive comments, I was able to give my testimony. During the testimony even I heard gasps from those in the audience from what I said. Some of the legislators understood and were sympathetic to what families have had to go through.

What did take place that was very positive to our cause was Rep. Ableser who spoke up in the understanding of our issues and stated he has received a number of calls from constituents with similar issues. We are not alone and he knows that.

More important was that the chair of the committee, Sen. Nancy Barto, also spoke up and voiced similar concerns to ours – that the new legislation doesn’t have any teeth. So we got this on official record as well as statements from the committee that this is only a foundations and there is still work to be done.

Did our listeners calls make any difference?

Absolutely! Even though we didn’t get the results we would have liked, we heard over and over from legislators on the committees to others we spoke with that they have received numerous calls with concerns about CPS and the out-of-control agency it has become. Those on the committees acknowledged these calls and concerns from constituents and voiced them on the record. They were listening!

That might not sound like a lot right now, but if you were at the committee meetings numerous times legislators presented questions, especially to Director Flanagan, from people like you.

Did anything else come from this process?

Some positive things came from what happened this week.

Director Flanagan heard our testimony in the Senate hearing, he was there, he heard the gasps from the audience. He was disappointed that someone spoke out against the bill as written. They didn’t expect anyone to take a negative stand, especially on record on the floor.

This resulted in Director Flanagan actually asking to speak with us after the last session. We spoke with him briefly and he knows he has work to do to gain the support from the public, especially those who have been harmed by CPS in the past. We gave him a copy of our 53 page report and he has promised to read the report and get back to us with a response. He is also open to speaking with us in the future. If he is true to his word, then he will reach out and listen to families like ours and people who are trying to make meaningful reforms to protect children, but also to prohibit abuse from the system;

We met with even more legislators which permitted us to make them more aware of the problems within the CPS agency. It isn’t just bad parents. It is about an agency that has not been following the law.

We also made contacts and have referrals to legislators willing to work with us to create legislation. These contacts are important and we hope to work with them over the next couple of months to draft legislation that will make the necessary changes and hold the agency accountable.

We also challenged legislator’s knowledge of the bill. Everyone believes that there is an oversight of the agency through a Community Advisory Committee. Here’s what the committee is and the members of the committee:

A. The Community Advisory Committee is established to provide a community forum:

  1. To inform the department, analyze current law and policy and make recommendations to improve the ability of the department to increase the safety of children, respond to child maltreatment and ensure the well-being of and timely permanency for children who are referred to and involved in the child welfare system.
  2. For the collaboration among state, local, community, public and private stakeholders in child welfare programs and services that are administered by the department.
  3. To improve communication between mandatory reports and the department.

B. The committee consists of one representative of each of the following who is appointed by and services at the pleasure of the director:

  1. Child welfare agencies that directly provide contracted services to children and their families
  2. Child advocacy organizations that deal with child welfare system policy issues
  3. Current or former foster or adoptive parents
  4. Medical providers, with a preference for pediatricians, who have experience in diagnosing and treating injuries related to abuse and neglect
  5. Volunteers with foster care review board or court appointed special advocate program
  6. Persons with an academic appointment to a state university who conduct research in child welfare services, child maltreatment or child abuse
  7. The courts. The representative must be involved in child welfare issues
  8. A rural area in this state who has experience in the child welfare system
  9. A Native American tribe or nation who has experience in the child welfare system
  10. A child advocacy organization that advocates for or represents children who are victims of crime
  11. Persons who have experience with children with special needs and the child welfare system
  12. A law enforcement agency. The representative must have experience with the department on cases that involved criminal conduct allegations.

Where are the families or parents represented in this committee? Where is the voice to report when the agency or it’s service providers fails to uphold the law or violates the law?

Once again it isn’t there. THAT is what we must change!

What can we do next?

We need to get to good legislators elected that understand the problems with CPS/DCS. Do they want to expand the agency and give them more power? Are they just giving the politically correct answer of “it’s to protect the children,” or “child safety.” Do they understand the issue from the family’s perspective? Do they understand the abuse FROM the agency? Those are the questions you need to be asking in your district.

If you live in LD28 it is important to remove Kate Brophy-McGee from office and replace her with someone who will actually listen to the constituents. She refused to meet with us to discuss the CPS issue, even though we live in her district. These are our elected officials, so even if they may not agree with your position on an issue, it is still their responsibility to at least hear from their constituents.

Shawnna Bolick is running against her and has been very instrumental in helping us raise the awareness of the problem to legislators. We need someone in the legislature who will listen.

Kelli Ward in LD5 in the Senate was helpful in getting us on the floor to speak. She also seems to understand the issue. She was the only dissenting vote on the appropriations bill. She didn’t want to give them all the money at one time and instead wanted DCS to meet benchmarks before obtaining additional funding.

Ed Ableser in LD26 in the Senate was very sympathetic to my testimony as well as those families that have had to face a CPS case. He wanted to get a definition and clarification of neglect, and he understands neglect is one the reasons CPS has used to remove children. He also offered an amendment to change the name of the bill to include “family preservation.”

Nancy Barto in LD15 in the Senate, and chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee also understands the issue and acknowledges that this is only the beginning. Listen to her opening remarks during the committee hearing, which is posted on our website. Sen. Barto also met with us prior during the regular legislative session.

David Bradley LD10, however believes CPS is the child’s savior, based on his comments made during the Senate hearing. He formerly worked for CPS. He did not appear to understand the issue from the family perspective.

Carl Seel in LD20 in the House, has been very supportive and has helped throughout the entire session deliver our message to other members. He understands the issue as well the constitutional implications of the agency’s policies. Carl is also a voice on the House floor who wants answers.

REMEMBER, this is only one issue in the state but one we are all obviously passionate about. Before making a decision on how to vote in the primary in August, contact the candidates and ask them questions. We are not endorsing any candidates but are just reporting which ones have been supportive  or unsupportive about the CPS issue.

This is only the beginning as we reach out to legislators in the upcoming months.

Next week’s show

Next week we will continue to discuss the CPS topics and what you can do to protect your family.

Sources and Links:

Senate Health and Human Services Committee Hearing

Department of Child Safety SB1001 – New bill (signed by governor)

 

Concerned mom not notified when DCF takes her children from school

13639248001_2328460382001_A94988A8127048CF922309F9A1F4AFB8LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A Lee County mom gets a phone call that sends her into a panic.

She's telling Four in Your Corner, that the Florida Department of Children and Families pulled her kids out of school Thursday without telling her.
She wants to know why she wasn't given a heads up.
This mom didn't want to go on camera out of embarrassment and the stigma that comes along with a DCF investigation.  She tells FOX 4 a local DCF worker said the mom should have known they were taking her kids out of school Thursday. When we reached out to the Tampa headquarters however, they said that's not the case.
"What if something happened and I didn't know where they were," the concerned Lee County mom said. "Here I am thinking they are in school safe and they're not."
She assumed her kids would be picked up from school at the end of the day and instead, they were picked up by the Florida Department of Children and Families.
"I was concerned for my kids," she said.
The mom found out through a phone call from her son.
"He was supposed to be in school at this point?" reporter Kelli Stegeman asked. "Yes," she replied. "He called me and I'm like what's going on? He said 'I'm with this woman."
That woman with DCF allegedly took the two kids away from school to interview them about what this mom calls a problem within her extended family.

 

Read more and video at fox4now.com.

Louisiana foster care system to undergo new initiative

bildeThe Louisiana Division of Children and Household Solutions is carrying out a new effort in the state's foster care system called Faith in Households, according to DCFS Assistant Suzy Sonnier.

The goal is to safely lower the number of children in the state's foster care program and reduce the quantity of time children spend in the system. It additionally is geared toward helping every child find a permanent connection prior to they leave the foster system.

Faith in Families looks for to decrease the lot of children in Louisiana's foster care program by 25 percent, or roughly 1,000 children, by 2015.

"By 2015, we desire 85 percent of our children to exit foster care within 24 months of getting in either with reintegration with family or adoption," Sonnier stated when she revealed the program today in Shreveport. "We wish to meet the national standard of 75.2 percent of children being met again with their family within 12 months.".

Sonnier shared a story of a young woman who aged from the foster system at 18, almost a many years ago. She is now a well-adjusted and totally used adult; however, the female still is sorry for that she never had the ability to make a household hookup.

"Here she was 27, had a fantastic profession in front of her and no one to share it with. When she got an advertising, she had no one to call.".

Louisiana has 706 children ages 15 to 17 in foster care. Over the next 3 years, numerous of them will age out of the system, leaving them with no choice to find work or a place to live.

"I dislike to say it. Unless they were in a very great foster house when they aged out who enables them to come back and be a household source for them, then they are just out there on the street," said Kelli Todd, program supervisor of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. "They have no idea how to fill out college applications, they constantly call our office to help them get their birth certificate or Social Security card, they do not have the resources they require.".

The Faith in Families effort will be phased into the foster program over 3 years, from now till 2015.

In loving memory of Alissa Guernsey who died in foster care aged 16 months old

In loving memory of Jaren Alissa Guernsey who died in foster care aged 16 months oldOur mission is to expose the corruption that led to Alissa Guernsey's murderer being released for jail in just 75 DAYS! We demand that the case be reopened and the responsible party charged with MURDER!

This case went so horribly wrong because of the MULTIPLE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST associated with the Prosecutor and the Judge involving personal and professional relationships with the defendants father, and also the doctor that treated Alissa for the 3 months that she was being tortured until she was ultimately MURDERED. PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT AND JUDICIAL MISUSE OF POWER DETERMINED THE OUTCOME OF THIS ENTIRE CASE!
WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL ALISSA GETS THE JUSTICE SHE WAS DENIED!

The following description is the tragic story of 16 month old Baby Alissa Guernsey.

♥ Alissa B Guernsey November 2, 2007 – March 28, 2009

Alissa was fatally beaten by her caregiver, Christy Shaffer. The justice system did not value Alissa’s short life enough to properly punish the person who took her final breath. It is also believed that Christy's father, Kerry Sprunger, had "connections" because of the position he held in LaGrange, which assured that Christy would never pay for her crime.

16 month old baby Alissa was murdered.

In November of 2008, Alissa's father, Michael Guernsey, was tragically killed in a car accident. Kelli Sprunger, Alissa's mother was beside herself with grief and unable to care for her children. Christy Shaffer offered to take Alissa and her 2 siblings in until Kelli got back on her feet. During that time Kelli failed to keep in contact with caseworkers, and was cited for Neglect. Alissa and her siblings were made wards of the state in Steuben County, Indiana and were officially placed in the home of Matt and Christy Shaffer, who were not trained foster parents, but relatives of the family. At this time, Kelli (admittedly) returned to her drug use.
Alissa was a normal, happy, healthy baby when she left her mother’s home.

It was in January of 2009 that Alissa began losing her hair and random bruises were appearing all over her body. Shaffer had taken Alissa to doctors to try and find some type diagnoses stating that Alissa "bruised easily" and that her hair was "falling out". Alissa had been to specialists in Elkhart and Riley's Children Hospital. None of which could ever find anything "medically" wrong with her after multiple rounds of blood testing.

During this time Christy Shaffer kept Alissa's mother from visiting with her, but not with her other 2 children who were also in Christy's care.

March 28, 2009 Alissa B Guernsy was murdered. The autopsy report declared her death a HOMICIDE, due to blunt force trauma to the head. According to the post mortem exam, her hair had not fallen out - it was ripped out! Alissa endured months of beatings which resulted in stitches to the head, multiple deep mouth lacerations, a broken elbow (for which she was not given her pain medication) and multiple bruising about her head and body before she was finally beaten to death. These injuries were new and old.

Christy wanted people to believe that Alissa had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or was born a meth/crack addicted baby and that was the reason she was "clumsy and always bruised" – that is wrong! According to the doctor and tox screen reports from when she was born, Alissa was perfectly healthy. You can clearly see the before and after pictures of Alissa, she was perfectly happy and healthy with her mother, and turned in to a different baby with Christy Shaffer.

Christy Shaffer never had to take responsibility for the blunt force trauma. In June 2009, Prosecutor Jeff Wible convened a Grand Jury after being presented with the Medical Examiners report, the Indiana State Police report, and all eveidence pointing to HOMICIDE due to blunt force trauma. The Grand Jury indicted Shaffer for Neglect of a Dependent, Class B Felony AND Neglect of a Dependent, Class C Felony. (neither charge results in the death of the child!) It is believed that Jeff Wible purposely did not push for any murder charge (or even so much as Neglect of a dependent Class A which results in death) This is believed to be because of the MULTIPLE conflicts of interest involving relationships between himself and Kerry Sprunger (the defendants father) and Alissa's Pediatrician, Dr, John Egli, (who missed every single opportunity to save Alissa's life) Jeff Wible sat on the same board of directors of the LaGrange County Community Foundation with Dr. Egli for years. Kerry Sprunger was a regular member and donated undisclosed amouts of money and assets to this foundation.

Shaffer accepted a Plea Agreement by pleading guilty to Neglect of a Dependent, Class B Felony in February 2011.

In late May 2011, Shaffer was sentenced to 10 years in the Department of Corrections, 6 years suspended.

At sentencing, LaGrange Circuit Court Judge J. Scott VanDerbeck offered Christy shaffer information that she could come back in 60 to 90 days for a possible modification of her sentence. Judge VanDerbeck modified Shaffer’s sentence in August 2011. Shaffer was released after serving 77 days.

Where is Alssa's justice?

Shaffer only spent 77 days in prison and was released with time served and 6 months home detention with 3 yrs probation. Baby Alissa was tortured, beaten and lost her life.

Christy Shaffer served only 77 Days for the torture and murder of an innocent and defenseless 16 month old baby girl. Alissa was given no mercy, no justice, but we can give her a voice!

DON'T FORGET TO LIKE AND SHARE HER PAGE TO HELP BE ALISSA'S VOICE!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

PLEASE SIGN HER PETITION!

http://www.change.org/petitions/indiana-state-attorney-general-open-a-state-murder-investigation-for-the-fatal-beating-of-alissa-guernsey

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A version of this column originally appeared in www.lukesarmy.com.